By Nick Giannandrea
Armed with a meet-best five No. 1 seeds, College of the Sequoias looks to capture the Northern California men's track and field title for the second time in three seasons.
Jamal Britt leads the way for the Coast Conference champion Giants as the No. 1 seed in three events individually heading into the trials portion of the NorCal Championships, which are scheduled for Saturday at Modesto Junior College. Field events start at 10 a.m. and running events at 3:50 p.m. The finals are May 10, with field events at 10 a.m. and running events at 4:50 p.m.
"The goal coming into the season was to attack our goals in progression," COS coach Kenny Jackson said. "The first goal was to be the conference champion, and we conquered that. Now we want to be NorCal champions, and then go find a way to win a state championship."
Britt, a highly coveted national recruit out of Las Vegas, holds Northern California's top marks in the 110 hurdles (14.15 seconds), 400 hurdles (51.76) and long jump (7.60 meters) and is a member of the No. 1 400 relay team (40.84) along with Raymond Marquez, Semaj Taylor and Ian Kelly.
Britt placed first in all five of his events during the Coast Conference Championships on April 27 at De Anza College in Cupertino.
And Britt's individual marks all lead the state. He's run 0.15 seconds faster than anyone else in the 110 hurdles, he's the only runner in the state to go under 52 seconds in the 400 hurdles and he's flown more than eight inches further than anyone in the long jump.
"We're expecting the same type of performance out of him at NorCals," Jackson said. "He's just done a tremendous job with his role (as a team leader) and taking care of business."
The Giants qualified 20 men competing in 36 events to the NorCal Championships, including top-seeded Ismael Ramirez in the 1,500 (3:57.32). Ramirez is also seeded eighth in the 800 in 1:55.55.
"Ismael is amazing. He's taken to coaching very well," Jackson said of the freshman from Redwood High. "(Distance coach David) Sanchez has done an amazing job with him. ismael is PRing and getting faster and faster. He's starting to peak at the right time."
COS also features top-five seeds in Marquez (No. 2 100, 10.58), Taylor (No. 3 200, 21.41), Friginette (No. 4 400, 48.23), Thomas (No. 5 400, 48.46), David Roderick (No. 4 1,500, 4:02.94), Oscar Perez (No. 3 5,000, 15:36.39) and Jackson Miller (No. 5 triple jump, 13.93).
Also representing the Giants' men at NorCals are:
* Marquez in the 200 (No. 7, 21.56).
* Xavier Byrd in the 200 (No. 21, 22.24) and 400 (No. 21, 50.86).
* Roderick in the 800 (No. 10, 1:56.24).
* Luciano Linares in the 1,500 (No. 13, 4:13.41).
* Perez in the 10,000 (No. 8, 33:59.08).
* Luis Gonzalez in the 5,000 (No. 22, 16:11.08).
* Kelly in the 110 hurdles (No. 9, 15.43) and long jump (No. 13, 6.79).
* Henry Hagen in the 110 hurdles (No. 12, 15.58).
* Miller in the high jump (No. 11, 1.90) and long jump (No. 15, 6.25).
* Jarad Rachal in the pole vault (No. 19, 4.15).
* Sergio Gonzalez in the pole vault (No. 25, 3.70).
* Kobe Dennison in the long jump (No. 9, 6.92).
* Cameron Haynes in the shot put (No. 6, 14.33).
* Berry Randle in the shot put (No. 16, 12.85), discus (No. 7, 43.93) and hammer (No. 8, 46.78).
* Rigo Lopez in the shot put (No. 20, 12.46).
Briseno, a sophomore from Granada Hills, is seeded third in the 5,000 (18:33.35) and fifth in the 10,000 (42:39.36).
"Being a returning sophomore, she's had the responsibility to lead a mostly freshmen group of girls in how to do things right, not just on the track but in the classroom and taking care of their bodies," Jackson said. "And she's done that well. We're expecting her to perform very well at NorCal and make the state meet."
Nelson, a freshman from Redwood, is No. 3 in the 100 hurdles (15.25), No. 7 in the triple jump (10.73), No. 8 in the long jump (5.21) and a member of the No. 3 400 relay team (48.75). Nelson was the only COS woman to win an individual conference title, taking the 100 hurdles
"Taylor has done a phenomenal job," Jackson said. "She showed up and believed in the workouts and her progression. I think Taylor has a really good shot at being a NorCal champion as a freshman."
The Giants' all-local 400 relay, which also features Cassandra Sanchez (Mt. Whitney), Melya Head (Tulare Western) and Elizabeth Bienvenue (Reedley), also captured a Coast Conference title and is seeded third for NorCals. Sanchez, Head, Bienvenue and Abbi Eickelberg (Mt. Whitney) make up the Giants' all-local and ninth-seeded 1,600 relay (4:13.51).
"We're known for having girls and guys from out of the area that help us perform at a high level, but we did that with kids from the Valley," Jackson said. "We won the that title with girls from Mt. Whitney, Redwood, Tulare Western and Reedley. That says a lot about the high school programs in this area and the talent they produce."
COS' women's team will also be represented at the NorCal Championships by:
* Sanchez in the 100 (No. 12, 12.69).
* Head in the 400 (No. 17, 1:02.63).
* Eickelberg in the 400 hurdles (No. 11, 1:09.77).
* Bienvenue in the long jump (No. 10, 5.15).
* Susi Tonga in the shot put (No. 16, 10.65).
* Christa Pilgrim in the shot put (No. 25, 10.02).
The state championships are set for May 17-18 at San Mateo College.
COS' men won the NorCal and state titles in 2017. It was the first state title for the men's program. The Giants' women have never won a state track and field title.